Whose artificial intelligence are you going to believe, Google’s or IBM’s?
The No. 1 most-talked about gift this holiday season, according to IBM Watson Trend
, is the Apple Watch
—pinning the scale at 100 nearly every day since Aug. 8. The latest iPhone, by contrast, is at the bottom of the pile with a measly score of 2.
A Google Trends
search this Black Friday morning, on the other hand, gives the iPhone a 54 and has the Apple Watch at 2.
In other words, two of the world’s most powerful analytic engines, given the task of monitoring the Internet for product buzz on the busiest shopping day of the year, are in total disagreement.
What are they thinking?
Here’s how IBM describes Watson Trend, a free iPhone app based on the same natural language processing system that in 2011 beat two human Jeopardy champions on national television:
“Each day, Watson Trend scours the internet—social networks, blogs, forums, comments, ratings, reviews—looking for conversations related to purchase decisions. We look for conversations from those who are about to make a purchase, people who are conversing as they make a purchase, and conversations after a purchase decision. As we identify these conversations, we use Watson to understand the context, meaning and sentiment or tone of the conversation. If someone is talking about a new smartphone they have purchased, we understand if they are happy with that purchase, what features they liked, where they bought it, etc.”
Here’s how Google describes Google Trends, a by-product of its effort to organize the world’s information:
“When you search for a term on Trends, you’ll see a graph showing the term’s popularity over time in (nearly) real time. The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google… A line trending downward means that a search term’s relative popularity is decreasing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing. It just means its popularity is decreasing compared to other searches.”
Based on purely anecdotal evidence—the number of friends who’ve consulted me about buying Apple Watches for their twentysomething kids—I think the gadget might be a bigger hit this holiday season than Wall Street expects.
But in the match-up of analytic engines, I’d put my money on Google. The consensus among the analysts Fortune polled last month was that Apple would sell 77.5 million iPhones this quarter. By Christmas morning, Apple probably won’t have sold a tenth as many Watches.
Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.
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